A great looking shoe with all the tech features and hallmarks of a far more expensive model, with almost as good performance. The slightly fiddly tongue is the only real fault.
Adequate stiffness for multi-hour rides
Simple, single BOA retention
Fiddly to get the tongue sitting comfortably
All white finish difficult to keep clean
If ever there was a shoe that embodied the 'trickle down' effect, it's the Shimano RC5. The RC5 straddles the boundary between a high performance race ready shoe and a comfortable leisure oriented version, with some standout features.
One look at the RC5 and it's easy to see it belongs to the same family as Shimano's top level S-Phyre shoe - it looks (in my opinion) totally killer and makes you question the need to climb any higher in the range if you're just a 'normal' rider.
The sleek upper is designed as a one-piece unit, aimed at wrapping the foot evenly and securely. It's obviously not just a single piece of material but the use of glued or thermo-welded panels helps keep the outer look relatively seamless. The shoe features a wrap over tongue to further enhance security; this is held in place with a section of elastic but proves to be the only real chink in the RC5 armour. I found the inside edge tended to wrinkle up and caused discomfort each time I put the shoe on. This was rectified with a little manipulation but it does detract from the experience and is not something I've experienced before with similar shoe designs.
I have also on occasion felt the upper edge of the tongue dig into my foot when on the turbo. I do have to take into account that I have a very bony foot so I can experience this on shoes that many people have no issues with.
The lightweight upper is also peppered with perforations and unlike some other similar styles these actually work to the extent that you can really feel cooler air flowing in. This cooling effect is something that might or might not be welcomed dependent upon when and where you're riding.
A single BOA L6 dial couples with a small velcro strap to help retain the RC5. As is usually the case with these arrangements, the velcro strap does very little and in my case I don't think I have ever touched it during the test period. The BOA L6 is a simple one-way dial so lacks incremental release of tension - you have to pull the dial up and flex your foot if you want to relieve pressure and then dial the tension back in again.
Fit wise the RC5 follows the classic Shimano issue of having to size up from your normal to get the shoe to fit - I'm normally a 44 or 44.5 but a 45 Shimano fits perfectly. It is a medium fit across the forefoot but has plenty of toe wiggle room. The heel cup is moulded and reinforced and grips comfortably. Unlike the higher RC7 or S-Phyre shoes the RC5's heel cup is lined with a non-knitted material so is less likely to soak in water.
Once you've set your cleats up - you'll be pleased to know there is plenty of adjustment to set them up perfectly - the RC5 performs really well when pedalling.
You can instantly tell it's not an über stiff race shoe as it has a much softer feel when putting down power, but it certainly isn't a wet noodle. The sole is predominately carbon reinforced nylon, especially around the all-important mid foot area and as such has enough stiffness to retain a good level of power transfer. There is flex at the toe and heel area but for many this will be welcome, especially if you tend to ride all-day and/or at steadier paces. I never once encountered the dreaded hotspots or undue pressure that can come from an overly flexible shoe - even when riding for multiple hours on the turbo.
I'm sure I said it before but I love the looks of the new Shimano RC5, especially in this almost completely white colour arrangement. However it's impossible to keep them perfectly clean and once stained can be difficult to clean effectively, especially on the sole. If the white is too white, Shimano also produce the RC5 in a flashy blue or understated black.
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James Bracey's career has seen him move from geography teacher, to MBR writer, to Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and video presenter. He possesses an in-depth knowledge of bicycle mechanics, as well as bike fit and coaching qualifications. Bracey enjoys all manner of cycling, from road to gravel and mountain biking.
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